Glasswort Essay

967 Words May 2nd, 2013 4 Pages
Glasswort
Salicornia europaea

Classification

Glasswort, also known as Norfolk Samphire belongs to the family Amaranthaceae. They are a group of very similar and hard to distinguish species. All Salicornia of Eurasia are associated with this group. A distinctive features of this plant is its stout, fleshy appearance. They are pioneers of often flooded mudflats of sea coasts.

Many synonymes for S. europaea exist, for example S. herbacea, S. prostrata.
The classification is not completely clarified to date. The succulence and the strongly reduced morphology are posing difficulties to a satisfactory taxonomy of the whole genus of Salicornia.

Description

Salicornia are annual, strange looking, halophyte herbs of 5-45cm growth
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Glasswort is difficult to grow in cultivation, it can succeed in gardens if sown as soon as the seed is ripe in the autumn in a well-drained soil
Its widely distributed on coastal areas of the northern hemisphere from Europe to Asia (China, India, Japan, Russia, Korea).

Due to its high flooding and salt-tolerance it transgresses far into the sea. There it builds the so called 'glasswort zone' and often grows together with Spartina anglica (Common Cordgrass) - the only other embryophyte that is able to advance so far into saline waters.
It is growing abundantly at the North Sea, Baltic Sea and the Mediterranean but is also found inland on saline soils.

This species is little, if at all, cultivated and its exact requirements are not clearly understood.
The seed is best sown in situ as soon as ripe in a well-drained outdoor bed and watered regularly with a saline solution of 1 teaspoon of proper sea salt in a pint of water.

Ecology

Glasswort is a pioneer plant of siltation areas, often following sea grass beds. Thanks to their high salt tolerance glasswort colonises flood plains and thus contributes to the consolidation as well as the accumulation and retention of suspended solids. This process, which is called 'sedimentation', leads to gradual silting. They can bear the highest salinities among all flowering plants.
Unlike Puccinellia maritima (common saltmarsh-grass) and Sea Arrowgrass (Triglochin maritima) glasswort reacts with stunted growth

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